LSU’s Leonard Fournette the latest to spark debate over NFL Draft rules

13 Comments

Get ready for another round of silly debates over what LSU running back Leonard Fournette should do with his football future. Fournette was already a well-known player to those who follow college football recruiting and have been actively watching LSU football, but this past weekend has seen him enter the national spotlight as more of a household name. Fournette’s smashing performance against Auburn, in which he showed superior physical strength and veteran-like awareness and patience to maximize the result of each play has catapulting him to the top of the Heisman charts and NFL folks are paying close attention. Unfortunately, the NFL will not be able to welcome Fournette to the professional ranks due to NFL rules preventing him from joining the league until 2017 at the earliest.

The New York Times published a story on the NFL rules and Fournette on Sunday, citing a guide from the NFL for college football coaches.

“The majority of underclassmen are not physically or mentally prepared to enter the [NFL],” the league states in a guide for college head coaches. “Most would benefit significantly from another year of college football.”

Fournette has suggested players may be physically ready to make the jump, but the mental fortitude is not always ready for that kind of change. It does not matter how physically gifted and crafted you may be if you do not have the mental maturity to handle the responsibilities that come with playing in the NFL.

Most would, of course, but sometimes there could possibly be an exception to that rule. Ohio State’s Maurice Clarett once tried to challenge the NFL rules feeling he was ready for the next level after just one year in Columbus. Fournette may be much more physically prepared than Clarett was at the time, but even he is not likely ready to jump right into the rigors of the NFL just yet. And recent history might suggest coming back for another year is probably best to get more of a sample of what any one player is capable of doing. Just last January NFL types were calling for Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones to leave the Buckeyes and enter the NFL Draft after three career starts (although an incredibly impressive three career starts). Jones returned to the Buckeyes this season and has now been pulled from the starting job just three games into the season.

It was just within the last couple of years national media types were seriously debating whether or not South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney should sit out the regular season and focus on training for the NFL Draft. Clowney, of course, played what would be his final season at South Carolina and went on to be a top draft pick of the Houston Texans in the 2014 NFL Draft. Do not be surprised if some fall into the trap of suggesting Fournette should consider sitting out the 2016 season so he can focus on the draft. The arguments that will be made may actually carry a little more weight than the arguments for Clowney. Running backs have a short life span in the NFL, and coming back from various types of injuries can be far more inhibiting than at other positions, like defensive end.

Wisconsin launches early Heisman campaign for RB Jonathan Taylor

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Heisman Trophy has generally been synonymous with the best quarterback on one of the best teams in recent years but there have been a few running backs who have broken through to win the most prestigious award in all of college football.

Hoping to become the next tailback to break the signal-callers’ grip on the stiff arm? That would be Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who appears to have a budding campaign for the trophy that was launched by the school on Thursday:

Herschel Walker. Ron Dayne. Ricky Williams. Adrian Peterson. LaDainian Tomlinson. Dominant running backs. Legendary names. Unrivaled production … until now,” one tagline reads. “There’s a new kid on the block and he’s “Bringing Running Back,” back into the spotlight, just like those that came before him. And his name is Jonathan Taylor.”

The website goes through all of the notable stats that Taylor has piled up in just two seasons in Madison and while it doesn’t explicitly say everything is designed to raise the junior’s awareness ahead of Big Ten Media Days and the upcoming 2019 campaign, it does note that his fellow Wisconsin Doak Walker Award winners have all been finalists in New York at some point in their career.

i.e. hint, hint media this guy is pretty good.

And nobody is debating that after he has set numerous records during his first two years on campus. Key to actually making it to New York though might be how Taylor’s team does around him. If the Badgers can get back to being in contention for the Big Ten title once again in 2019, chances are high that the tailback’s play will play a bigger part in getting him the attention he deserves than a website and a hashtag.

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy headlines 2019 Biletnikoff Award Watch List

Getty Images
2 Comments

Media Day season is also Watch List season and the latest to surface for the 2019 campaign comes out of Tallahassee in the form of the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. The award, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding receiver, includes the defending winner in Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and fellow semifinalist Tylan Wallace out of Oklahoma State, as well as a number of other talented pass-catchers from around the country.

Here’s the full list, which is a good general overview of the best wide receivers and tight ends for the upcoming season even if a few names can gripe about being left off:

Lynn Bowden, Jr. (Kentucky)

Rico Bussey, Jr. (North Texas)

Cedric Byrd (Hawaii)

Grant Calcaterra (Oklahoma)

Damonte Coxie (Memphis)

Gabriel Davis (UCF)

Bryan Edwards (South Carolina)

D’Wayne Eskridge (Western Michigan)

Aaron Fuller (Washington)

Antonio Gandy-Golden (Liberty)

KJ Hamler (Penn State)

Adrian Hardy (Louisiana Tech)

Damon Hazelton (Virginia Tech)

Tee Higgins (Clemson)

K.J. Hill (Ohio State)

Isaiah Hodgins (Oregon State)

Justin Jefferson (LSU)

Jerry Jeudy (Alabama)

Tyler Johnson (Minnesota)

Collin Johnson (Texas)

CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma)

Ty Lee (Middle Tennessee State)

Kalija Lipscomb (Vanderbilt)

McLane Mannix (Texas Tech)

Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State)

Riley Miller (Ball State)

Denzel Mims (Baylor)

Darnell Mooney (Tulane)

Rondale Moore (Purdue)

Albert Okwuegbunam (Missouri)

K.J. Osborn (Miami)

Dezmon Patmon (Washington State)

Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt)

Michael Pittman, Jr. (USC)

James Proche (SMU)

Jalen Reagor (TCU)

Jared Rice (Fresno State)

Sean Riley (Syracuse)

Reggie Roberson, Jr. (SMU)

Justyn Ross (Clemson)

Henry Ruggs III (Alabama)

Laviska Shenault, Jr. (Colorado)

JD Spielman (Nebraska)

Amon-Ra St. Brown (USC)

Marquez Stevenson (Houston)

Tamorrion Terry (Florida State)

Jaylen Waddle (Alabama)

Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma State)

JoJo Ward (Hawaii)

Quez Watkins (Southern Miss)

Ryan Day isn’t going to name Justin Fields as Ohio State’s starting QB just yet

Getty Images
3 Comments

Almost as soon as Justin Fields’ waiver to play right away in 2019 was approved, the Georgia transfer was pegged as Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

Ryan Day, however, is picking up this whole being a head coach at media day thing pretty good because the new leader of the Buckeyes offense declined to anoint Fields as the starter despite ample evidence that he’s the guy for the job.

“It’s an interesting situation. Whoever is playing in that first game will be the first time. Justin and Gunnar (Hoak) are going to compete like heck to go win the job,” Day said from the podium at Big Ten Media Days on Thursday. “At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to who can play the game.”

Hoak, who grad transferred over from Kentucky, was a key pickup for the program in the offseason not just to provide some competition for Fields but to provide much-needed depth after a host of quarterbacks left for other schools. While he has experience playing in five games last year with the Wildcats, there’s a gap in terms of natural talent between him and Fields.

Day seems likely to stick to his timetable of naming the starter a few weeks into camp but it still seems pretty clear as to who eventually will take over for Dwayne Haskins under center for the scarlet and gray.

Still though, you have to hand it to the rookie for going full on coach-speak when it came to his signal-caller at his very first media day in charge.

Big Ten’s Jim Delany upset with College Football Playoff Selection Committee

Getty Images
3 Comments

Thursday marked the final Big Ten Media Days press conference for outgoing commissioner Jim Delany.

While his appearance was fairly low-key all things considered, the longtime college athletics stalwart didn’t hold back when it came to discussing his league and the College Football Playoff, lobbing some critical comments towards the Selection Committee in particular.

“I wish we had a little more continuity. I wish they would demonstrate as well as state the stronger commitment to strength of schedule,” Delany said. “We should be playing comparable schedules and if we’re not, there should be somewhat to differentiate that.”

The Big Ten has missed out on the playoff the past two seasons and saw its champion be skipped over in another year for a divisional runner-up.

Delany also voiced support for something suggested by Big 12 counterpart Bob Bowlsby to require all teams to play at least 10 Power Five opponents in a season, helping even out the difference between eight and nine conference slates.

“I’ve been disappointed, quite honestly, about the strength of schedule,” he added. “We’re not going to change. There may be pressure to change, but I think that’s short-selling our fans, our players, our TV partners. I’m hoping that the committee catches up with the intent of the founders.”